Tim Bichara

Monetising your mobile content part 2

Earlier in this series, we looked at advertising and now we'll explore other options for monetising your mobile content.

Working with advertising partners can help make ads more interactive and entertaining for your customers but they may not be enough to financially sustain your business.

Revenues from advertising are only really viable if the mobile content generates heavy traffic. In other words, if your brand and content isn’t well established, it would be better to explore alternate or complementary means of monetisation.

Content owners have begun seeing returns with digital subscriptions to monetise and grow the audience around their content.

Publishers like the Financial Times have been using online paywalls for some time now, while others like The Economist offer subscriptions within their mobile apps.

Their success can be measured by this year’s annual letter to Hearst employees, where president David Carey highlighted steady growth to 800,000 subscribers across their magazines, 80% of which are new customers.

Periodical publications like The Economist choose to offer exclusive content on auto-renewing monthly/annual subscriptions. Others like the upcoming The Magazine offer time-locked content for subscribers, after which it is available to everyone. Both options can work depending on your audience, industry and business objectives.

Apple’s Newsstand
On iPad, iPhones and iPod Touch, content owners can take advantage of the popular Newsstand app for content subscriptions. Apps that support Newsstand are automatically bundled inside the app and presented neatly on shelves, away from confusion of other apps on the device.

They are offered special privileges on the platform like dynamic icons, automatic push updates (latest issues are downloaded in the background) and enhanced App Store discoverability.

The Newsstand streamlines all subscriptions and payments, charging the user through their iTunes account. While Apple retains its controversial 30% fee, this offers content owners a better market for their apps and streamlines the subscription experience.

In-app purchases
Freemium apps are some of the highest grossing apps in mobile App Stores, offering free apps, with the option to buy upgrades and enhancements within the app.

Generally these are popular for monetising games and the process of in-app purchases works well within the urgent, addictive environment found in games.

In content driven apps, in-app sales aren’t an effective strategy on their own – people resist buying additional features beyond the core content. But they can work if coupled with subscriptions. For example, magazine apps can offer single-issue sales alongside subscriptions.

Content owners need to decide whether they can line up a good set of partners to roll out advertising or instead go down the subscription route.

Ultimately the size of the audience and schedule of content production will help decide the best direction for generating revenue from your mobile content.


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